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Dame Carol on mining: let's learn from our past mistakes

BEN JACKSON | Bougainville 24

Dame Carol KiduTHE ELECTION OF DAME CAROL KIDU to the Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) board in April 2013 was a clear indication of the company’s intent to learn from its past mistakes and push forward with a new approach to resource development in the Autonomous Province.

“The major consideration should be learning from the past to create a better future for all stakeholders using inclusive strategies,” said Dame Carol, who was appointed to the Board of BCL earlier this year.

“It is important for BCL and the people of Bougainville to acknowledge that the old Panguna existed in a very different era.

“We need to analyse the mistakes of that era, rectify them where possible and learn from them when creating the new Panguna.”

Dame Carol said that resource development was not the ultimate goal, but rather a means to a greater end.

“The primary role of mining and resource firms in PNG is as economic drivers of development,” she said.

“Large economic resource projects potentially give a government the financial resources to provide an acceptable standard of living for its citizens as well as the resource owners.

“The basic guiding principles should be minimising harm to the environment and the people and communities in the area of the resource development and maximising the restorative processes.”

There are few people as well versed in the challenges of social inclusion and cultural complexities in Melanesia as Dame Carol Kidu, and she hopes her vast experience can be utilised by BCL.

“My Ministerial background in community development and human rights provides me with the ability to provide strategic advice that will align company community engagement and development programs with government social policies,” Dame Carol said.

“I see myself as being most effectively used as an adviser for the work of the [Bougainville Copper] Foundation as well as in community engagement and community affairs in the lead-up towards mine re-opening.

“I also hope I will be able to facilitate increased and meaningful involvement of women in all aspects and levels of the mine re-development process.

“I hope the Bougainville people might see the role of BCL as an important partner to create prosperity and peace,” she said, “ensuring that the wealth from their non-renewable resources is used wisely and re-invested to ensure a sustainable future.”

You can read the full interview with Dame Carol Kidu on Bougainville 24 here

Disclosure: Bougainville Copper Limited is a client of Jackson PR Associates Pty Ltd


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Phil Fitzpatrick

Papua New Guineans are very good at standing on the outside and carping Keith.

Then again, so are Australians.

Keith Dahlberg, MD

Re responses to Dame Carol Kidu's election to the board of Bougainville Copper Ltd, it need not be the environmental disaster and social destruction predicted by Trevor Kami.

In the USA, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is very strict about restoration of mine sites to their original condition, at the mine operator's expense. I have personally seen results in the coal fields of West Virginia and Wyoming where the land has been restored to its original contours and vegetation. And here in northern Idaho, once bleak mountainsides (forty years ago) are now reforested and the site of the old lead smelter is now an upscale housing development.

What it takes to accomplish this is firm control by a government agency with power to require obedience to the regulations, and to heavily fine offenders. Mines still operate at a profit in these regions because there is a demand for what they mine and for the jobs they create.

Of course, it helps to not finance the bureau of mines by the mining corporations, and to have some control over corruption. Thirty years ago, Gulf Resources Corp bought the Bunker Hill Mine, sold its equipment, laid off three thousand workers, and sent the profits overseas. Hopefully, we learned a lesson there.

Australia, Canada, China, and USA all outlaw marine tailings disposal. Since the mine in Bougainville shut down, the paste backfill method has developed to the point where mines no longer need to dump their waste in rivers and oceans.

Dame Carol Kidu is wise to join the BCL board. As Phil Fitzpatrick has put it, it's better than standing outside and carping.

Dame Carol, keep up the good work!

Phil Fitzpatrick

When Dame Carol says, "Large economic resource projects potentially give a government the financial resources to provide an acceptable standard of living for its citizens as well as the resource owners," she knows, like everyone else, that there is a disconnect between the government receiving the resources and actually disbursing them for the benefit of the people.

I suspect that is why she uses the word "potentially".

I also suspect that she thinks that by being involved with BCL she might be able to instigate some positive changes to the way it operates. This is probably better than standing on the outside and carping about what is wrong.

Australia is shortly going to find out that by putting all its eggs in the resources development basket and ignoring the other aspects of the economy disaster looms.

The same lesson should be heeded by PNG and especially the ABG.

Trevor Kami

Dame Carol - Mining destroys land forever and makes landrich clans into eternal landless people.

I am so disheartened that she sees mining to be anything other than environmentally disastrous and socially destructive. For shame, Dame Carol, for shame.

Barry Lalley

The lessons were learned, Carol - the mistake was letting the mine come (which BTW the women didn't want). Full Stop.

Kristian Lasslett

Dame Carol Kidu deserves respect, she has earnt it - I have witnessed her stand up for her constituents at great personal risk. She doesn't ask for praise, nor does she seek notoriety. Dame Carol embodies the best spirit of public service.

But in this instance I worry Dame Carol has attached herself to a brand and a legacy that will diminish her great contribution to public life in PNG, needlessly diminish.

In my view BCL's management have not learnt from the past.

The Chairman of BCL continues to deny that during the conflict the company encouraged the PNG government to assert its authority on Bougainville, and then proceeded to aid the PNGDF once deployed, when the evidence against them is overwhelming; I mean their own managers from the period have admitted to it!

So BCL logistically aided the PNGDF - that is if we are to believe BCL's managers from 1988-90 - a force who then went around the mine areas burning villages, sexually assaulting women and murdering civilians. Where does Dame Carol stand on this? Can BCL make amends without some form of acknowledgement and reparation?

Where does Dame Carol stand on all the young Bougainvilleans who experienced the horrors of war, and now want BCL to acknowledge the truth, seek forgiveness, and offer reparations for the damage this conduct caused.

Then there is recent pronouncements made by BCL's Chairman on independence. I would imagine lesson number 1 of Bougainville's history is do not interfere in local politics.

Yet this was what he told the papers recently when asked about Bougainville's possible independence: "if you're an economic rationalist, you might be better off having big brother in Port Moresby bankrolling you".

A very dangerous statement to make as the head of BCL at this tense period in history!

I could go on ... BCL, I suspect, are beginning another very dark chapter in their corporate life, I would not want to be in the supporting cast.

That said I don't doubt for a moment Dame Carol will fulfil any role, no matter how controversial, with dignity and compassion.

Mrs Barbara Short

What a wonderful idea to elect Dame Carol Kidu to the BCL Board. I agree with all that she says.

She should be an excellent person to turn to, and to seek advice from, on any re-development of the mine.

Let us hope that she will be able to facilitate the involvement of Bougainville women in all aspects of the re-development process.

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